EDIT: I feel better now, actually, after one of the circ girls came over and made fun of the woman with the HR head. Then someone else came over and sympathized, telling me, "That person likes to complain." So I get kudos for the whole thing. Wheeee.
Basically, the rules of the summer reading program are as follows: You fill out your log, which is for ten books/hours (so long books can count for, say, three hour blocks, but picture books and the like stand on their own). Halfway through, you get a little prize (like...hacky sack balls and rubber frogs with buggy eyes and the like). When you're done, you get a free book (your choice) and are entered in this grand prize drawing thing. If you want to, you can keep reading, but after that first initial log, your finished logs only garner another slip entered into the grand prize drawing. No more free books or prizes. Limited supply and all.
Now, from my memories of summer reading when I was a kid, all I got was one prize at the end (usually a coupon booklet, MAYBE a book), and that was it, sweetie. I think you got stickers if you did more than one log. So obviously this program has only improved since my childhood. Keep that in mind.
Now, her problem with this was that "Five or six year olds don't understand the drawing, and then what's their reward?" She then continued on to shriek that the program is supposed to encourage reading and they're taking away from the kids because they aren't getting rewarded all the time. She also said something about the library always providing crappy service and not giving her any reason to come back because they keep taking away from the kids despite getting extra funding (funding for a new building, but I thought it useless to point that out - she obviously had no conception of budgeting, as is made quite obvious).
I tried to say I thought the prizes were limited because of budget constraints. She pointed out that we had a cart of them, to which I pointed out that a lot of kids haven't even gotten their first prize yet, and if return kids kept taking them, we'd run out and then the first-timers get nothing and supplies are limited. Which brought me back to my first point about the budget. Apparently my logic didn't impress her. After bitching at me about library policies and service that had nothing to do with me, she snooted off with something about, "I'll just have to reward her myself."
Apparently she then went over to circulation (as noted in my edit up there) and reamed THEM out too, shrieking about how she doesn't want to hear excuses. I'll get to that in a minute.
My first problem is that I think five/six year olds ARE old enough to understand the drawing. Her poor daughter - her mother thinks she's a retard. (Incidentally? The daughter didn't seem to care. She was just happy she'd finished more books and just wanted to get more.) Children younger than that (babies - four-ish) might not get it, but...like...they're being read to anyway. Which brings me to my next point.
Yes, the program is encouraging children to read, but not JUST so they can get happy prizes and kisses and validation every five hours. It's so they'll realize reading can be fun, on its own. Thus, it's really supposed to give you the reward of realizing just that. She's all, "This is an ACCOMPLISHMENT!" Yes, and it's one I did at that age without needing prizes every two seconds. Reading was its own reward, and if the kids aren't doing it for fun after some time - if the only reason they do it is for the free stuff - then the program is NOT working. And it's not like they get NOTHING at all. A free book is a damn good prize, AND they get the other halfway prize, both of which serve as the initial reward to get them reading in the first place. All I got were coupons, which brings me to my NEXT point.
Saying prizes are limited because of a budget is NOT A FUCKING EXCUSE. It's reality! I mean, I remember the coupon booklets, which were a pretty cheap prize (What kid gets excited about coupons? A trinket and a book is MUCH better). The coupons were done, though, because you could get companies to support you in return for the, in effect, free advertising. Thus, these trinkets and books are much better, but also much more expensive for the library. Does the woman think they should not buy books for the collection just to waste money on stupid trinkets so her precious little baby's accomplishment doesn't go unrewarded? Face it, libraries have - often very limited - budgets, and so there have to be some restrictions. And what's so wrong with rewarding the child herself, anyway? That way everyone who participates can get a prize, and her daughter can get her constant reassurance from her mother, whose resources only have the one child to reward.
But on the positive side, I know I CAN be very reasonable and calm during the entire encounter. This is a good thing, especially because they ask you about this sort of thing in interviews, and my previous worst patron was some guy who got mad at me for nothing and just flounced off.
Awww, but to make this all not a bitch-rant - a guy came up and asked me about selection processes, then said, "By the way, Diane and I really love this library. Just to balance it out a bit."